Many organizations have put in place workplace fire safety measures to keep their customers and employees safe and avoid significant damage when severe fire strikes. However, it’s still not clear who is responsible for fire safety at work, a place where we spend approximately 1/3 of our adult life. What is the employer’s responsibility? What can be left to employees? We’ll break down some important fire safety measures at work and whose job it is to ensure that these protective measures and fire codes are met.
What’s your responsibility as an employer?
As an employer, you have several fire safety responsibilities.
Employers must create and document a workplace fire preparedness plan
This plan should cover not only what you will do to prevent a fire hazard but also what to do if a fire incident breaks out in the building. The plan should document all fire emergency procedures and escape routes. According to OSHA, all emergency fire plans should be in writing unless the organization has less than 10 employees.
Employers must educate employees on fire safety procedures
Creating a fire preparedness plan is the first step; the next crucial step is to educate all employees regarding this plan. According to OSHA, the plan needs to be reviewed when it’s first developed, when the employee is given an assignment relating to the emergency action plan or when the plan itself changes.
Employers must provide and maintain proper fire prevention and protection equipment
As a building owner, find out which fire protection and prevention equipment you are required to provide and maintain. This may include a fire suppression system, fire extinguishers, and emergency lighting. Put in place processes to ensure this equipment is inspected and maintained as required.
Employers must train employees on the proper use of fire safety equipment
Employers must invest in properly training their employees on proper operation of any fire protection equipment that they provide such as fire extinguishers.
What’s your responsibility as an employee?
The decision to fight or flight
Employees have two options when a fire breaks out at work, to fight or flight. This decision is entirely up to them. No organization should set up strict rules for employees to not use their fire suppression systems or fire extinguishers in case of an incident. Employees are also not required to fight a fire if it breaks out in the workplace. They can take flight if they choose.
Pay attention to safety procedures
Employees are required to practice proper safety procedures laid out in the company’s fire preparedness plan. This simply means that they need to take an initiative to participate in training and carefully read and understand the company’s action plan.
What’s the responsibility of fire protection vendors?
Fire protection companies offer a wide range of services from inspections and maintenance to installation of fire suppression systems. Outsourcing to these companies reduces liability hence, it’s recommended that you hire an experienced and licensed vendor to provide services such as fire hazard inspections, fire extinguisher testing and maintenance.